Quora Question: The Realities of Brexit

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Answer from Mark Cross, Senior Business Analyst, Pro-European Brit:

I feel deeply, deeply troubled [about Brexit now that Article 50 has been triggered]. I am desperately concerned for the well-being of the British people, I am suspicious of the the motives of those in government today and I personally feel a sense of deep loss. I am grieving for the loss of my citizenship. Even though I was born in the UK and I have spent most of my life in the UK, I consider myself to be a citizen of Europe (or rather the U.K. in Europe). I feel that it is a sign of our greatness for us to be part of the European family and, to carry passports that combine our royal coat of arms with the rich burgundy colour that we share and which declares us as a nation that looks to the future, and not to the past.

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Brexit

The European Union and the British flag side by side on bunting, Knutsford, Cheshire, England, March 17, 2016. Christopher Furlong/Getty

When the referendum result came in, I felt bitter and angry at both sides. I felt that it was absolutely scandalous that the un-elected Leave campaign was able to make fantastical promises (that were often mutually exclusive) without consequences. I felt appalled that the Remain campaign, staffed full of cabinet ministers and leaders from government and industry, were wholly unprepared for what happened next. Now that the dust has settled, this anger has been replaced by sadness and disbelief that the entire political system has been hijacked by fanatics who are completely happy to steamroller the concerns of 48% of voters into the ground.

I worry for those who voted for Brexit because they were already at breaking point after years of austerity cuts. They were told that there would be a cash bonanza for social services (read: the NHS) as soon as the UK could reapportion the funds that were presently being paid to the EU. As the weeks pass, it seems increasingly certain that the government strategy will involve cutting taxes to attract overseas trade and investment, cutting domestic public services further and presumably there will be further privatization of national assets. All of these being things that will cause even greater harm to those who needed relief the most. I feel embarrassed and ashamed to be part of a society that is allowing this to happen.

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I feel a profound sense of loss and a feeling that I do not belong. I used to feel tremendous national pride for being British. I admired our global perspective and I felt that we were a nation of cool headed pragmatists. I felt proud that we were a country that had a history of producing some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers, diplomats, statespeople, business and military leaders. I believed that we led the world in uniting people with different cultures and different world views. I thought that the rise and fall of the British Empire had ingrained in us a truly global perspective as well as a sense of humility and wisdom that allowed us to mediate the worst excesses of the global superpowers. I woke up, the day after referendum in shock (as I believe that the rest of Europe did) in the stark realization that the Great Britain of the Magna Carta, Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill had been washed away by the Little Britain of David Brent, Victor Meldrew and Rab C. Nesbitt. We had officially become a narrow-minded little nation ruled by cynicism, arrogance, short-termism, prejudice, intolerance and political and economic naivety.

I look ahead to a couple of years from now and I see border controls with every country in Europe, I see queues and checks at customs and passport controls, more expensive flights, more expensive food and poorer quality imports. I see extra red tape if I ever were to live, work, buy a house in or start a business in Europe. An end to freedom of movement may sound like a cause for celebration for many, so long as they are only interested in spending their life on this little island. As a result, I feel that this will discourage our children from looking outwards and I see this as their loss. If they somehow overcome the barriers and burned bridges that we have left to them, I hope that they will one day forgive us.

I have always been a fairly pragmatic person and I actually do feel that it would be possible for the UK to be very successful outside of the European Union if we had have gone about it in the right way but that would have taken time. We would have needed to spend a good number of years investing heavily in key industries that we could excel in on a global stage, we would have needed to invest heavily in education of our citizens (at all stages in life) and creating a culture of innovation and a thirst for excellence that is much stronger than it is today. We would also need to transcend our condescending attitudes towards Europe and abandon our sense of god-given self-importance. In short, if Britain wants to be independent, we needed to realize first that we are not “special” unless we put in the thought and effort that is required to make ourselves so.

What are your feelings about Brexit now that Article 50 has been triggered and there is no turning back? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

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